Movie Review: Halloween (1978)

Posted: September 21, 2014 in Reviews
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Bare Hands, Kitchen Knife, Knitting Needle, Wire Hanger, Revolver

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Reviewed by: Jenicide

October is near. Yes! Our favorite month of the year is approaching. So what better time to get to a favorite upon many horror fans than a review on the 1978 classic, “Halloween”?

When it comes to horror films, John Carpenter’s Halloween is considered by many as a holy grail of a horror movie; one that introduced the iconic masked killer, Michael Myers. More than likely, if you are reading this, you know how the movie goes, but to be consistent in our reviews, here’s a quick synopsis for you: A young Myers is left in the care of his older sister, Judith, whom he murders in cold blood on Halloween night, 1963. Fast forward fifteen years later, Myers, having been under the care of his psychiatrist Dr. Loomis, (played by the late, great Donald Pleasance) makes his move and escapes. Loomis realizes the evil nature of his patient and is hell-bent on recapturing Michael, whether he gets support or not. Now back in his hometown of Haddonfield, Myers stalks three high school girls who are unaware they are now his targets. Particularly the level-headed, reserved Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis’ film debut). Their Halloween turns from a carefree evening of babysitting and teenage hi-jinks to death and terror.

Halloween Girls Michael Myers Young

So what made “Halloween” such a beloved masterpiece? It relies on basic ingredients and excellent execution; the suspense factor, a creepy score (composed by Carpenter), and great acting. The suspense is played out beautifully throughout and reaches a crescendo during the final game of cat and mouse between Michael and Laurie. Adding to the suspense is the spine-chilling music featuring those edgy, stinging notes that are now so iconic. The acting is subtle and effective with extra points going to Nick Castle for his nuanced performance of Michael Myers; he is able to convey mysteriousness and an animal-like quality all under a blank, emotionless mask. He is not a man, he is an evil presence in the shape of a man; the fact that he is even credited as The Shape shows that he is not to be understood as a human character, but as a malevolent force of nature. All these elements combine to create a dark atmosphere that makes this film scary without the need to rely on buckets of blood.

Ghost Michael Myers Tombstone

“Halloween” was made cheap but with a lot of love. It only had a $300K budget, with the director maintaining full creative control of the film and with hardly any special effects at all. It simply utilizes pure fear under circumstances that could happen to the average person in an average town. You could relate with some characters; they could be your friends, the kids you babysit, or so forth. Many members of the crew were friends of Carpenter and the late producer Debra Hill, so they all pitched in when needed. And today, it still ranks as one of the most successful independent motion pictures ever.

Of course, there are the sequels and the remakes that stemmed from this film. Some entries, building on Myers’ inhuman character, present him as being literally supernatural (is he? Or isn’t he? Was this really implied in the original film? Oh, so much to think about!), and delving deeper into the roots of his madness while upping the gore factor. This leads to great discussions/debates on the character and the quality of the series…but we can get into that in another review.

Loomis Gun Myers Face Emerge

Overall, “Halloween” is an excellent film and a must-see on your horror movie bucket-list, if you have one, or if you’ve been living under a rock. This film proved it could terrify you without bloody guts or massive gore. Michael Myers became a household name in the horror realm, alongside other characters under the new slasher sub-genre, where the movie monsters were redefined by putting them in human form. Not to mention catapulting Jamie Lee Curtis into her classic “scream queen” status that led to a steady career in the mainstream world. Donald Pleasance’s career was also affected as he went from playing villain-type characters to avenging Loomis-type roles which continued until his passing in 1995. Plus, John Carpenter, who achieved notoriety after this, went on to make more classics throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s that we will be sure to review in due time. As one of the early films that helped define the elements of the slasher genre, Halloween is well respected and highly recommended for your viewing pleasure.

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